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Faculty Forum

Lehigh Faculty Forum provides an opportunity, a few times per semester, for exchange among the faculty free of any specific agenda.  At each session, a member of the faculty spends a few mintues to share an idea, something recently read, or a recent experience of broad interest.  Our time is otherwise without structure.

Past Sessions

March 24, 2015
Mark Orrs, Professor of Practice in Political Science and Director of the Sustainable Development Program, shared experiences with taking on the subject of affective wellbeing with his students. Mark noted that the words school and scholar derive from the Greek scholastes meaning "one who lives at ease."  Indeed, in ancient times only those who were able to separate themselves from day-to-day urgencies enjoyed the luxury of thought and study. In contrast, Mark noted coverage in the media of the UCLA Higher Educaiton Research Institute proflile of this year's incoming college students which found increasing occurrence of depression and feelings of being overwhelmed as evidance that students' emotional health is a significant concern. As he pointed out, these concerning indicators with regard to emotional health are, per this survey, occurring alongside increases in time spent studying and decreases in alcohol use. Mark went on to describe two extended experiences: His incorporation of mindfulness practices in his classroom, which were viewed very favorably by students, and his creation of a one-credit course, "Finding Happiness," in which study definitions, dimensions and determinants of happiness and other positive affective states. Questions and discussion touched on the roles of faculty and student egos in students' continual striving, the possibly differently motivated striving that has been observed among Mountaintop students, and the number of advisees who have expressed the desire to take Mark's course.

March 3, 2015
Kwame Essien, Assistant Professor of History and Africana Studies, told a remarkable story involving his family history, the West African slave trade, British colonization, development of international programs at Lehigh, and his personal path as a scholar. During his childhood in Ghana, Kwame's mother had told him and his siblings about a great, great, great uncle, a prominent Chief, who had been involved in the pre-colonial slave trade and had also collaborated with the British in the transition to colonialism. Because the slave trade is not often discussed in Ghana, it was not until college in Greensboro North Carolina - including his encounters with both the American black experience and preserved documentation of the slave trade and particularly his visit to Boone Slave Plantation in South Carolina - that Kwame fully encountered its impact and his sense of personal connection and was motivated to switch his major course of study from Architecture to History. While exploring his graduate school options, Kwame was interested in the Chief as a subject of his doctoral studies but was advised that his chances of finding sufficient source materials were low. It was not until a chance meeting in Ghana, during a Lehigh trip in 2014, that Kwame came upon documentation that now opens up the possibility of studying the Chief and his place in history as his second research project.

January 22, 2015
Frank Gunter, Professor of Economics, spoke about challenges in crafting unambiguous means for allocating resources according to personal or group assessment of social good. He explained that his foray into the topic began with an encounter with a student who had attempted to apply economic principles to a question that was best answered on an ethical basis. Citing economist Amartya Sen, Frank described the dilemma faced by an individual who’s forced to choose among opportunities to help others. Citing economist Kenneth Arrow, he described  ambiguities that can arise in an attempt to form consensus based upon the expressed priorities of individual group members. Discussion touched on whether failures of group decision-making mechanisms indicate intractability of the questions at hand, whether the problems described are particular to social goods, and distinctions between social goods and social justice.

November 13, 2014
Vera Fennell, Associate Professor of Political Science, shared recollections from her attendance at the UN Fourth World Congress on Women, held in Beijing in 1995 and commonly referred to as the Beijing Conference. As we approach the 20th anniversary of the congress, Vera reflected on what was a very different time in China, prior to recent and rapid (and at the time, unanticipated) expansion of China's economy. The Chinese government was visibly nervous about having 30,000 attendees and was carefully controlling entry, and Vera's path to attendance involved joining a Canadian organization. Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke at the conference, on the theme "women's rights are human rights," an argument intended to establish women's rights in countries that had agreed to uphold principles of human rights. One object of criticism by Clinton, and a seemingly easy target, was China's "one child" policy. However, Vera explained that the policy, which limited the number of children a Chinese woman could have, was actually well received by many Chinese women: absent government restrictions, the number of children a woman had might be determined by her husband's family. Discussion included musings on what has and hasn't changed in China amidst its rapid economic development and observations on durability (and legal codification) of cultural norms amidst political change and economic development in other parts of the world.

October 22, 2014
Jennifer Swann, Professor of Biological Sciences, encouraged the group to think about potential changes in how students' paths from high school diploma to college degree. Jennifer referred to the Stokes report to the Secretary of Education's Commission on the Future of Higher Education, which included that statistic that 18-22 year-old full-time students residing on college campuses comprise only 16% of higher education enrollments. The remaining 84% of students, who aren't following the classic path from high school through college are labeled "nontraditional." Jennifer posed the question of how colleges and universities might to accomodate different paths to a degree. One possibility being explored at Stanford would allow an admitted student to attend for a total of six years, regardless of whether attendance is continuous or episodic, enabling a student to intersperse periods of university residence or attendance with periods of work or other pursuits. Students who are engaged with the university over an extended time, bringing experience back to the university as they accumulate both experience and formal education, are called "populi." As the discussion revealed, the idea is provocative, presenting an enticing picture of dynamism in the university community while also abrading with established curricular and programmatic structures.

August 13, 2014
Naomi Rothman, Assistant Professor of Management, shared thoughts that arose out of the juxtaposition of a sudden death in her family and her work on the steering committee for the Lehigh Environmental Action Group (LEAG). The unexpected death suggested that it's never too early to think about what mark one has left on the world, and what impact one’s research has on others. In that light, she paused to consider what sustainability has to with her research on emotions, power, and decision making, a connection she had not previously considered. This thought exercise lead her to realize that sustainability – or meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs – was very much related to her research on emotions, power, and decision making (e.g., the effects of empathy and ambivalence on decision making by leaders and negotiators), and that perhaps her scholarly work could lead to changes in practice. Naomi's remarks led to discussion that touched on the innate value of new understanding, the recognition that even widely accepted understanding could turn out to be wrong (in the words of one of the scientists present, "knowledge has a half life"), the degree to which we invite students to be animated by the unkown, to communicate across disciplines, and to take others’ perspectives. Her remarks also suggested the value of pausing from time to time to consider questions like the one she posed: How do the activities we engage in outside of our research (e.g. committee work) inform our thinking about our research, and even push it in new directions?

July 17, 2014
Linda Lowe-Krentz, Professor of Biological Science, picked up on a conversation from last July on why members of the general public don't (or in Linda's example do) accept the conclusions of scientists. Linda used the example of genetics, specifically findings about associations between genetics and personal characteristics, health-related or otherwise. Given the complexities of genes and their functions, findings regarding such associations are subject to future revision and are easily over-interpreted. Linda recalled the Human Genome Project. At its outset the people involved were optimistic about goals such as understanding the origins of - and then being able to prevent or treat - all forms of cancer. As it turned out, the project yielded volumes of important information and new understanding, as well as whole new array of questions as gene-disease relationships were found to be far more subtle and complex than might have been hoped. Despite such subtleties and complexities, results of genetic studies as reported in the popular press seem to go unchallenged, especially when compared with topics like vaccine risks and influences on climate. Linda's talk elicited a lively and wide-ranging discusison that touched on the nature of science and cycles of clarity and inscrutability, social and political influences on how the results of scholarship enter into the general culture and discourse, tribalism, and ubiquitous recognition of beauty.

June 26, 2014
Alan Snyder spoke about a panel of mostly early-career faculty who spoke about their experiences and motivations during a session at the June Board of Trustees meeting on faculty recruiting and retention. The panel provided a wonderful window into what animates active scholars: the drive to take on things they don't understand, the delignt in bringing students into the process of active inquiry, and interest in bringing understanding thus gained into interactions with the community.  Discussion included the relative roles of defined content and habits of thought in different curricula across the university; intellectual, spritual and vocational motivations among students; and intrinsic versus external sources of those motivations.

April 24, 2014
Darius Omar Williams, Assistant Professor of Theatre, provided a window into understanding of poets, playwrights, artists and directors of 1980’s and early 1990’s who brought contemporary black gay, lesbian and transgender life onto the popular cultural radar.  Darius used reflections on the work of disco performer Sylvester James, writer Joseph Beam, poet Essex Hemphill and filmmaker and poet Marlon Riggs to illustrate how the Black Gay Arts Movement challenged cultural norms of American society, including cultural norms and traditions dominant in the black church, that had previously rendered non-hetero blacks invisible to larger society and distanced from mainstream black communities.  As the questions these artists raised crept into the American consciousness, so did the HIV/AIDS epidemic and with it disruption of the movement. Indeed, ensuing discussion included recollection of the phenomenon of great music as an avenue for exposure to unfamiliar cultures and inevitable raising of questions about the validity of societal norms, and the role of the epidemic in reestablishing or reinforcing marginalization of affected people.

March 18, 2014
Susan Kart, Assistant Professor of Art, spoke about Pablo Picasso's collection of objects of African and Oceanic origin and their role in his transition from representaion of depth on the canvas to the flattened representations of his cubist paintings.  The depictions of masks in works such as Les Demoiselles d'Avignom (at right) are commonly understood as influenced by the African art that was being brought to Paris and prominently exhibited at the time.  In contrast, the masks, figures and other objects Picasso used in his studio were were not of museum quality and were produced for the tourist trade. Picasso found interest in them because they exhibited a diminished representation of the third dimension analogous to what he was attempting on the canvas.  Far from being an admirer of the forms (or the original, high-quality work from which they derived) as pieces of art, and consistent with his dismissive nature, Picasso viewed the pieces merely as interesting objects.  Discussion included probing of Picasso's formal schooling, his ongoing feud with Matisse, and his social and political views, as well as contrasts between European artists who held to an ideal of the artist toiling exclusively for his art, and African artists who always kept markets and patrons in mind and had young artisans making multiples of sellable objects to keep the studio running.  Susan's review of Peter Stephan's volume on the collection, from which she provided examples, can be found in African Studies Review 50(2) September 2007, p.276-278 (10.1353/arw.2007.0103).

February 25, 2014
Edmund Webb, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, related his experiences as a parent seeking to make the most of his child's first encounters with formal education, to his work with college-age students.  He described his child's tendency to seek a sense of mastery and facility, and wondered about the paths taken by many students who, in college, experience failure in the classroom for the first time in their lives.  Ed described the pep talk he gives prior to an exam, noting that it is difficult and that they are up to it, and described watching the atheletes in his class, who are likely among those who experience failure at regular intervals, ready themselves for the challenge.  Having read about development of resilience in children, Ed wondered about how readily young adults who have experienced little failure can acquire the habit of seeing it as a learning opportunity.  Discussion included research on "performance" versus "learning" perspectives on challenging situations, and the limited utility of grades as a source of feedback or guidance to students.

January 24, 2014
Monica Miller, Assistant Professor of Religion Studies and member of the Africana Studies Cluster, offered reflections on a recent New York Times op ed about presentation of rap lyrics as evidence in criminal trials.  Monica expressed her surprise at the notion that the law would allow for evidence to be constructed, rather than being pre-existing information to be discovered.  Further, she questioned, as do the authors of the op ed, why rap lyrics seem to be readily taken as autobiographical (whether by depiction of events or of values or lifestyle) when this is not the case with other modes of performance or musical genres.  Monica's remarks led to extended discussion of topics ranging from the fleeting nature of countercultural or counter-normative expression as a mark of authenticity, to the genesis of expressive genres and people's ability to discern influences on their own creative work, to recognition of the roles of social and political forces, as well as construction of evidence, in conduct and dissemination of scholarly work of all kinds.  

The appellate court decision in The State of New Jersey v. Skinner and the rules of evidence at issue are notable for their consistency with Monica's remarks and the ensuing discussion.

November 13, 2013
Jean Toulouse, Professor of Physics, spoke about universality of, and in, Physics.  In a child swinging on a swing, the rhythm of which is understood by seeing the swing as a pendulum, and in two subatomic particles flexibly bound to each other and having a natural frequency at which they vibrate as a pair, a physicist sees equivalent behaviors and reasons that at some deep level there is a common phenomenon at play.  Jean gave an example from current research in physics, wherein from observing the behavior of a system one can reason that there must be two such oscillating systems coupled to one another, and lo and behold that turns out to be the case.  In another example of universality, Jean showed how our ability to deftly coordinate traffic flow on the road by slowing down or speeding up as needed explains why it would be useful to slow light in the optical fiber systems that carry most of our internet traffic.  

October 17, 2013
Kate Arrington, Associate Professor of Psychology, spoke about false memories, based in part on the work of her Psychology colleage Almut Hupbach.  In laboratory animals, false memories can be created by external activation of neurons.  In people, false memories, i.e., memories of events that never actually occurred or of aspects that were never present, can be reliably created in certain circumstances and can be as vivid and confidently held as are memories of real occurrences.  One way to create a false memory is to ask a subject to recall a recent experience while in the same place in which that real experience occurred.  This renders the original member subject to conflation with newly presented material.  As was noted in the ensuing discussion, the phenomenon might suggest that bringing a witness back to the scene of a crime will render her memory susceptible to modification.  Likewise, it was noted that for anyone who realizes that you've made a mistake in presenting material to a class, asking the group to recall the presentation in the next session might help your correction to stick in your students' minds as if the mistake was never made.

July 23, 2013
Steven Weintraub, Professor of Mathematics, presented his views on why many people do not accept, or are actively hostile to, matters on which there is a substantial scientific consensus. Claiming that the fault likes largely with the scientific community itself, Steve cited examples in which he observed departures from "disinterested pursuit of truth" among members of the scientific community, thereby making distrust of scientists a rational stance for non-scientists.  Steve suggested that working scientists should more openly confront forces such as influences of funding sources and the drive to publish that affect them.  The wide-ranging discusison that followed touched on topics including the nature of scintific inquiry and the ever-presence of uncertainty; conflicts between the scholar's sense of due caution in drawing conclusions and many audeinces' desire for simple, firm conclusions; a scholar's responsibilty for how her results are interpreted and used by others; how academic work is measured; and the degree to which the choice of how work is evaluated is made by us or by others.  Afterwards, Prof. Jennifer Swann encountered this commentary from the Journal of Neuroscience on the importance of communicating with the public.

June 26, 2013
Anand Jagota, Professior of Chemical Engineering and BIoengineering, shared the writings of philosopher and logician Alfred North Whitehead on education, especaily as contained in his book, The Aims of Education and Other Essays.  Whitehead observed that education had been infected, to ill effect, by "inert" knowledge, which he defined as knowledge that was received by the student without critique, revision or recombination.  Whithead contended that the proper role of the teacher is not transmitter of knowledge.  Rather, the teacher's role is to "pass the torch" of scholarship to the student.  The ensuing discussion covered a wide range of topics, from the notion of the student as apprentice inquirer, to faculty obligations in mentoring graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, to the validity of impact factors as indicators of the quality or impact of academic work.

April 17, 2013
Alan Snyder described his experience in taking a MOOC.  He noted that the one he took, a programming course, was servicable for an adult learner like him who was seeking proficiency in a new programming language.  He also noted limitations:  For programming languages, online support communities tend to be very good, so it was easy to ask "how do I..." or "what did I do wrong..." questions.  But it was impossible to ask "how come..." or "what if..." questions, the kinds of questions we most want our students to be asking.  Furthermore, as long as his code produced the intended outputs, he'd get 100 on an assignment.  There was no one to critique the style or aesthetics of his code, characteristics that can be very important.  Through the experience, he gained a sense of optimism:  Because, at least in this one experience, the MOOC was weak or unable to address aspects of learning that we would consider most critically important, the phenomenon might help to bring into focus the value of what university faculty do with students in person.  

February 20, 2013
Professor Martin Harmer from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering described some of the more extraordinary interests and career paths taken by former students and faculty colleagues in material science and engineering, and suggested that we all have hidden talents and a secret passion for pursuing them outside of our chosen “safe” career path, which shapes us as human beings.  He told his favorite story of Terry LaSorda, a Lehigh metallurgy graduate who got into magic when he was in hospital as a child.  Terry contracted polio at age 2 and had 14 operations for corrective surgery on his legs between the ages of 5 and 17.  His doctors told him that he would gain in his hands what he lost in his legs.  That turned out to be a very accurate prediction because he developed amazing hand speed and nimble movements with coins and cards and as a result - a magician was born! An interesting twist to this story is that when Terry was vacationing from his job as a metallurgist in New Jersey, he performed a magic act at a local mall, which caught the attention of an associate of Mohamed Ali, who invited him to Ali’s training camp.  Ali was so taken with Terry’s magic skills he hired him as his own personal magician!  Terry travelled with Ali for a year or so, then returned to his career in metallurgy.  He still performs magic and Harmer recalled a wonderful performance he gave at a former departmental gathering – a true metallurgical magician!

Harmer then described a fascinating new career path taken recently by one of his close colleagues, Craig Carter, who is in the materials department at MIT.  Carter is a theoretician and an expert in studying shapes and orientations of crystalline grains in material objects.  He recently teamed up with Neri Oxman, a professor in media arts and science at MIT trained in architecture, who uses a combination of 3D printing and new design algorithms inspired from nature (now written by Carter) to create unique sculptures.  Oxman has been named one of the “100 Most Creative People”. The produced works are truly amazing and have been receiving international attention. Some of their recent works are on exhibit at the Centre Pompiduo in Paris. 

Finally, Harmer informed the audience that he used to be a professional rose grafter before he came to Lehigh, employed by the largest rose nursery in the UK.  However, his real passion has always been for the sea.  The closest he has come to pursuing a career at sea is owning a 35ft sportfishing boat, which he brought back from the West Coast of Florida on a 2000 mile journey, after which he became certified as a U.S. Coast Guard licensed Merchant Marine Officer.

January 30, 2013
Vincent Munley, Deputy Provost for Faculty Affairs and Professor of Economics, described some empirical results from a recent study that examined the effectiveness of Lehigh’s Peer Tutoring Program. 

Unlike many, if not most, NCAA Division I universities, Lehigh has chosen to have student-athletes participate in its university-wide peer tutoring program rather that establishing and funding a separate program for student-athletes.  In fact Lehigh directs some of the monies that it receives, as a Division I athletic program, from annual NCAA basketball tournament revenues to help support the Center for Success peer tutoring program operated out of the Dean of Students Office. Not surprisingly, in this situation, the Assistant Athletics Director for Academic Support and many of the varsity coaches actively encourage student-athletes to participate in the peer tutoring program.  The empirical results suggested that the probability of, and the level of, participation in the peer tutoring program is higher among the student-athlete population than for all students. 

An unanticipated result manifested itself, though, in the empirical analysis when participation by student-athletes in different sports was examined.  The statistically significant high rate of participation, and level of participation, was strongest for a set of sports – football, men’s lacrosse, men’s soccer, women’s lacrosse, women’s soccer, and women’s tennis – where there is a distinctive ‘team’ focus.  Student-athletes in a second set of sports – men’s track and field and cross-country, wrestling, and women’s swimming – where there is a distinctively ‘individual’ focus actually participated, with a level of participation, to a statistically significant lesser degree than the general student population.  And when student-athletes in all individually focused sports (men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s swimming, men’s and women’s track and field and cross-country, and men’s wrestling) are grouped together at the same time that all team focused (all other sports) are grouped together, the statistically significant result of team sport student-athletes participating, and at a high level of participation, more than the general student population while individual sport student-athletes participated less was especially pronounced.

An active discussion among the faculty present about possible explanations for this set of findings followed.

November 13, 2012
K. Sivakumar (“Siva”), Professor of Marketing, discussed the legal concepts of bright line rules and standards and underscored the every day applicability of these concepts beyond the legal profession.  A bright line rule provides clear, unambiguous delineation, an example being that an age difference of five years (but not four years and 364 days), is required to bring an age discrimination case.  A standard provides discretion to consider several factors before a decision that will ultimately involve some subjectivity.  Bright line rules are easy to apply/administer, outcomes are predictable, but may appear to be arbitrary in borderline cases; on the other hand, standards are hard to apply but we might be more comfortable with the outcomes because there is scope for deliberation rather than a rigid application of a rule.  Standards may provide more fairness at borderline cases but overall can be susceptible to biased decisions. Legal cases as well as real life circumstances are often a mixture of both these approaches. Thinking more broadly about these concepts may help us understand their daily applications.  Bright line rules and standards can also be considered two points on a conceptual continuum of rigid rules based on objective numbers vs. flexible methods based on weighing several factors.  For example, law school admissions can be considered more similar to bright line rules and undergraduate admissions can be viewed as being more similar to standards. Employees limiting job applications to a particular GPA (e.g., 3.2) are following a bright line rule at the application stage but following a standard at the interview stage. A potentially controversial example could be to make social security less based on bright line rules of age but more based on assessment (of people who are between 60 and 70 years of age) by an expert panel based on means, abilities, needs, and circumstances of the individual and then deciding on social security eligibility.

Ensuing discussion ranged from how people determine letter grades for students (“fixed” vs. “flexible” cutoffs – the former akin to bright line rule) at the margin (e.g., B+/A-); assessing course pre-requisites by asking students to complete specific courses (a bright line rule) vs. a faculty member making an individual assessment of each student (a standard); to the definitions of landslide and mandate in elections.

October 9, 2012
Alan Snyder recounted points made by presenters at the recent meeting held at Lehigh with the US Council on Competitiveness.  Manufacturing industry leaders at the meeting repeatedly noted the importance of passion and purpose, in addition to technical prowess, to success in a competitive environment, and also about the importance of the arts and diversity of perspectives in fostering the creativity on which they depend.  Discussion followed on solo versus group work in academia, and on the roles of disciplinary and multidisciplinary academic communities. 

August 15, 2012
Evolutionary biologist Amber Rice, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, shared observations on public understanding of evolution.  She discussed the public resistance to evolution in the U.S. compared to other western countries, possible reasons for this difference, why this is a problem, and potential solutions to this problem. Recent survey data indicate that among 33 European countries and Japan, only Turkey showed higher levels of resistance to evolution than the U.S. Amber discussed a recent essay by Jerry Coyne, published in the journal Evolution, in which Coyne suggests that high religiosity is the reason the U.S. is so different from other western countries in resistance to evolution and to science in general. She presented views from the essay about both the source of this high religiosity and how we might best attempt to decrease resistance to science in the U.S., and she left those attending with several interesting topics to discuss.

July 18, 2012
Barbara Malt, Professor of Psychology, recounted her encounter with the large body of literature on correlations between psychological characteristics and political sympathies along the common liberal...conservative dimension, including both stable personality traits and effects of transient events.  A lively discussion ensued, touching on topics ranging from nonlinear system dynamics to student perspectives on ambiguity and unsettled questions.  As followup, psychology colleague Dominic Packer provided a pointer to this short essay on possibly surprising findings about reported happiness and position on the political spectrum.

June 27, 2012
Frank Gunter, Associate Professor of Economics, spoke about data on human birth rates that he encountered while working on his forthcoming book on Iraq.  Maintenance of a steady population requires a birth rate of about 2.1 children per woman.  Worldwide, birth rates have fallen remarkably over recent years.  Most wealthy nations (other than the US, which sits at about 2.1) have birth rates well below replacement levels, as does China.  Because of the current proportion of women of childbearing age, the world population continues to increase, but at current rates it will level off in around 2050.  People in different age ranges may, however, be poorly distributed around the world, with many nations have dire shortages of younger people in their productive years.  Frank identified the combination of access to education and lower religiousity as the most consistent correlates with falling birth rates among those that have been suggested.  A lively and thoughtful discussion ensued.

April 19, 2012
Alan Snyder described the "flipped classroom," an approach in which students start by considering a question that, ordinarily, might be answered using knowledge and tools yet to be taught in the class.   By arousing natural curiosity and the natural human desire for resolution and closure, and encouraging debate, the flipped classroom can provide students with strong context and motivation as they dive into the substance of the class.  Alan wondered whether we ought to think about the "flipped university," in which the approach applies across swaths of the curriculum that span classes and subjects, and students in different major fields of study engage together.

March 26, 2012
Anthony Viscardi, professor of art, architecture, and design, discussed intertwining of studio research and teaching in setting personal direction as an architect, artist and scholar.  Using his research in Shadow Mapping and its influence on his teaching as an example, Tony described how seeing different perspectives on the same object can lead on in different directions.

February 27, 2012
Jill Brown, assistant professor of management, discussed the experience of deciding whether to devote effort to developing an unusual idea with potential for leading to a highly notable publication, but most likely after an extensive and time-consuming exchange with reviewer.  Jill's personal example came from her recognition that the commensial feeding relationship between chickadees and woodpeckers, in which the former watches for predators and enjoys food harvested by the latter, can serve as a metaphor for the relationship between COO and CEO in a corporate setting.

January 23, 2012
Steven Weintraub, professor of mathematics, discussed Dava Sobel's recent book, A Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosoms, including discussion of Copernicus' reticence to contradict prevailing thought and imagining the experience of publishing when manuscripts were not easily copied.

November 16, 2011
Dena Davis, Presidential Endowed Chair in Health
"The Ethics of Post-Conflict and Post-Disaster DNA Identification"
Read more.

October 10, 2011
Matthias Falk, Associate Professor, Biological Sciences
"A Reflection on Steve Jobs and Henrietta Lacks, two people who changed our world." 
Read more.

August 10, 2011
Daniel Lopresti, Professor, Computer Science and Engineering
"The application of large scale data analysis in the humanities, made possible by various advances in computer science, including the Google book project." 
Read more in a related article by Brian Hayes, "Bit Lit."

July 14, 2011
Alan Snyder, vice president and associate provost for research and graduate studies, shared thoughts about the value of intimate, fluid connections and rapid exchange on one hand, and on the other hand, the need for separation, compartmentalization and limits on communication.  He used examples from biology, sociology and physics and cited two classic papers: engineer Claude Shannon's Mathematical Theory of Communication (1948), and sociologist Mark Granovetter's The Strength of Weak Ties (1973).

Office of Vice President and Associate Provost for Research and Graduate Studies • Lehigh University • 7 Asa Drive, Bethlehem, PA 18015 • (610) 758-2585